Tom Bergeron Reveals the Celebrity Casting That Ruined "DWTS" for Him
The long-time host was let go from the show in 2020.
From its premiere almost 20 years ago, it seemed that Dancing With the Stars would always be synonymous with Tom Bergeron, its long-time host. But fans of the reality series were shocked when Bergeron announced in 2020 that he had been let go after emceeing for 28 seasons. The split appeared to be contentious, especially since the host had publicly criticized DWTS producers in 2019, after a particularly divisive cast announcement. Now, Bergeron is speaking out again about his unplanned departure from the show and the celebrity dancer whose casting he saw as a "betrayal" and a sign that his time at DWTS was coming to an end.
Bergeron was the guest on the most recent episode of former DWTS pro Cheryl Burke's podcast, Sex, Lies and Spray Tans. As reported by People, he recalled meeting with producers ahead of the show's return in 2019 for Season 28 and stating his strong belief that the reality series avoid inviting any political figures, left or right, to compete, because of how divided the country was. When a producer and then-showrunner called him with the full cast, he was told he would probably want to "sit down" to hear one particular name.
The host recounted objecting to the inclusion of Sean Spicer, the one-time White House Press Secretary who he referred to as "the former press guy for [Donald] Trump." He told Burke, "I said, 'Guys, this is exactly what we said we wouldn't do. Don't go there. This is, you know, not the right time, play to our strengths, be the show that gives people a break from all this [expletive]."
Right after the public announcement of the Season 28 cast, Bergeron posted a statement to Twitter (now X), again recapping the lunch he had with producers and leaving it confident that they "were in agreement" to keep DWTS free from political conflict, as reported by People.
"Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go in a different direction," the host said.
Bergeron told Burke that he even told producers that he would step away for the season, to which they countered that they would release him from his contract if that's what he wanted. "That's how strongly they felt [about Spicer]," he said.
He characterized his subsequent Twitter statement as his "temper kick[ing] in" and an attempt to set the record straight for fans.
"They had screwed me. I'm gonna screw them," the host explained. "But I wanted the viewers to know this was a step too far to me. This was a step too far on the cusp of an election year." But, he clarified, his response had nothing to do with his personal political leanings. "And again—had it been a Democrat, same statement," Bergeron added.
While producers wouldn't let him know that his contract wasn't being renewed until Season 28 was over—and Bergeron did host the Spicer season, as he had the previous 27—he told Burke that the writing was already on the wall for him.
"So at that moment, I knew this is probably my last season, because of that one betrayal," he said of Spicer's casting. "Up until that point, there were people of character there."
Asked by Burke whether he would ever consider returning to DWTS, Bergeron said (via TVLine), "No, never. It's not the same show. It's not the same world. I did it for years; there's no point. What would I prove?"
The reality series is currently hosted by Season 13 winner Alfonso Ribeiro and former pro Julianne Hough.
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